Today was one of these days where my heart felt full. One of those days when the air in the morning smells different because the weather is cool and moist. The grass smells grassier and intoxicating smell of moist earth fills up my senses. I get up and check my phone with my dopey eyes and smile to the texts he would send me in the morning, sort of a routine. Unlike most of the days which are weekdays, when I get up panicked because I am late for work, Saturday morning brings with it a sheer pleasure of independence. And with the kind of weather here, I am already all set for the autumn which is still lurking somewhere in the corner.
From the bedroom window upstairs, I watch the people passing by. Group of old man sitting in the wooden park bench, playing cards and laughing with each other. I take the last sip of my coffee, setting the bookmark at the last page of the book, calling it the end of it. Though it leaves me touched. Khaled Hosseini has an utmost perfect way of exploring, not just his characters but his readers to profundity. It gives a perspective of human judgement, while people might seem like downright evil, over time, their personalities are uncovered to be more perplexing, and they all seem to be suffering or enduring some internal struggle. Or, they are the product of some outside influence, which makes them imperfect self. It touches the infinite layers of your personality and makes you realize, life and relationships are not to be devoured. It is to be savored
It’s raining here and it grows tiresome to go office in my routine shift, which consumes the entire day, we get stuck in traffic for hours, this is a common complaint at this time of year and gets people really riled up. I spend most of my time debating with my cabbies over recent changes in government and law and sometimes about the cultural differences between the geography of our country. For them, I am the alien who has no idea what a Dravidian state is. They admire if I speak a word in either of these languages or try to share my opinion over it. Our differences give our conversation, humorous, sometimes awkward turns. Having lived in different states and having a brief knowledge of cultural differences in our country, since I have had friends from almost every state of India, I do accept that these stereotypes are like written in stone, which can be intimidating to people. Once they cross these barriers is when you see the love.
One of these mornings, my friend decided to come from her car and she picked me up. As usual as soon as we met, we started discussing, how tired we are and how we want to leave office early, whom to talk about change of shift timings etcetera. We cannot and will not control our continuous rant with respect to those irritating elements. When we reach office, in the entry area is a guard who has to put a bar in front of car for a minute, while they check the car for anything unusual. He always smiles at me and say hi, and his smile is unusually innocent and intriguing. The kind of calm he showers, in that hot afternoon, relieves me of thousand worries for few minutes. He stands behind that barricade like it’s his domain, his kingdom. How my never ending wails for my job and my salary vanish all of a sudden. It is nice to not have to know names to know people.
Anyway, while parking, she was facing issues with her car-lock. Disconcerted and disquieted since we had to make it to 2nd floor in time or else we will be yet again judged, for being professionally-unfit, finally I started looking for someone who can be there to take care of this car, while in the meantime we can make other arrangements. I reached out to a guard there, who was checking the car’s fronts for company stickers, old in age, tucked in his uniform which is so loose on his body, baggy eyes and wrinkles on his face. We asked him if he can take care of the car for some time. He replied he can take care of it till the day’s end. We told him we are going to come back at 8 and if possible, can he inform the other guard who is going to replace his shift, to take care of car. He smiled and said, “Madam, I’ll be here till 11’o’clock in the night. You don’t have to worry”. Curiously, I asked him which shift he is working into. And he replied with no complain on his face, its morning 7 to 11 PM. He had no anger of either morning, afternoon or evening shift. He was happy and cooperative that he was able to make enough money to put himself through a decent life. I smiled at him and he did too. We thanked him and moved towards elevators while he continued looking for stickers.
How a person, who is standing in the burning Sun, facing the people’s gloomy faces and oppressive comments sometimes, is greeting me with so much innocence and smile, he made my day. He is not griping for his job, but I am. I don’t even get to compare our lives. And this old guard, in his age, I plan to get retired, owning a bistro on a beautiful island, where youngsters would come to catch up for a coffee and sandwich and sit and bond with their friends. Somewhere in the corner, will be a new couple starting a new life. I am whining over my shift for 8 hours job, where I sit comfortably in AC, get picked and dropped by company’s conveyance.
I can’t fight over the rules of privileges, whom is it given, and who merit them. They are overrated, never ending and can’t be reached to a common conclusion. Above all, nobody can explain a way to tackle any of those problems. So, why even write about them, if you never had any solutions. Writing about them, and bringing them up becomes moot. My problem is not that we cavil and complain. My problem is what makes us think that we can. That was the last day, I cribbed for my shift in front of my seniors.
Coming back from office, it was as usual late for me to reach home and while strolling my way back I was fuming over getting so late and not getting enough time for myself, I thought of buying a Dosa as opposed to cooking anything, as I was excessively drained. I got my supper packed, and as I started walking towards my home, two small kids were walking in front of me. A small kid, who must be 8 and his small sister, around 5, were walking holding hands, sharing a small packet of biscuit, their clothes were torn but spirits too high. The boy was singing a song,
“Hum logo ko samajh sako toh samjho dilbar jani. Jitna bhi tum samjhoge utni hogi hairani”
When he reached on his last line, his sister also joined in,
“Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani, Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani”.
Again, he sung the paragraph further, “Thode anaadi hain, thode khiladi, Ruk ruk ke chalti hai apni gaadi. Hame pyar chahiye”
Then waited for his sister to complete the line, she said, “Aur kuch paise bhi”.
Then he continued, “hum aise bhi hain.”, and the little girl sang, “Hum hain waise bhi”. Then he continued his song and at the last line, his sister again caught up, “Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani. Phir bhi dil hai Hindustani.”
I reached my apartment. But after years, I felt, I was home. They had no food, no proper clothes. I have no clue what gives them so much positivity to sing like this. I called them, “Hey”, the boy looked back and clutched her sister’s hand even tighter. He didn’t seem to come to me. I went to him and offered him the Dosa, he looked at me and smiled and gave it to his sister. She screeched in joy. They happily went off talking about something.
They were thankful to me when they had no reason to. They had no idea, I gave them food for a day. They had given me the food for life.
They touched me in ways I can’t comprehend. I’d be thankful to them all, for all they have done for me without even knowing.